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November 14, 2011

Victory in MS

Yesterday, Mississippians rejected (58-42) Proposition 26 that would have recognized fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses as separate legal persons under Mississippi law. Put another way, yesterday, 58% of Mississippians supported and reaffirmed the constitutional personhood of pregnant women.
We say this because NAPW knows that so-called personhood measures, as well as more subtle but just as dangerous feticide laws and anti-abortion legislation, are all ultimately designed to deprive pregnant women of their status as full persons under the law.


Proposition 26 failed for numerous reasons. While the mainstream media is focusing on the influence national groups on both sides of this ballot fight had, in fact there was an amazing home-grown grassroots uprising of opposition to the measure. As NAPW’s South-based attorney documented in her piece, Grassroots Opposition Grows to Mississippi’s Proposition 26, Mississippians themselves saw the danger in the measure and took action.

Your support of NAPW helped too. Your support helped fund our South-based attorney who respectfully spoke with individuals and organizations across the state so that they would have the information they needed to build opposition within their own communities, schools, churches, and neighborhoods.
Your support of NAPW made it possible for us to produce a video, explaining How Mississippi's Prop 26 Can Hurt ALL Pregnant Women. More than 15,000 people have watched this video, shared it through social networking sites, and used it as a tool in their own opposition campaigns.

The question now is: How do we build on this victory for women and families and for a newly energized and mobilized grassroots firmly planted in the state of Mississippi?

NAPW is committed to continuing to work with the new leaders, organizations, and activists that have so much to celebrate today.

We are also committed to continuing our fight for Rennie Gibbs, the Mississippi teenager charged with murder for experiencing a stillbirth. A surprising--if not inexplicable--5-4 decision from the state Supreme Court last week held that this young mother must first go through the ordeal of a homicide trial before that Court will decide if the state’s existing homicide laws may be used to punish women who cannot guarantee healthy birth outcomes.

Finally, we know this vote does not put an end to efforts to recriminalize abortion and to establish precedent that legally separates fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses from the pregnant women who carry and sustain them. NAPW is in it for the long haul: we will make sure that in Mississippi and throughout the United States our laws support a culture of life that includes the women who give that life.

November 1, 2011

NAPW & Grassroots Opposition to Mississippi's "Personhood" Measure

On November 8th, 2011, Mississippians will vote on Proposition 26, a ballot measure that, if passed, would alter the state constitution, redefining the word “person” to include every human being from the moment of fertilization. While similar measures were defeated in Colorado by wide margins, in 2008 and again in 2010, many people worry that this measure will pass easily in Mississippi.

What few - in Mississippi or beyond - anticipated was the strong grassroots opposition that has emerged against the proposition. This week, National Advocates for Pregnant Women’s newest staff attorney, Allison Korn, published a commentary in RHReality Check describing the amazing grassroots rising there.

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Allison is southern, by birth and education. She is a native Memphian, born and bred in Memphis, Tennessee. She is also a proud alumnae of the University of Mississippi School of Law. Now, working out of New Orleans, Louisiana as NAPW’s legal advocate and organizer in the South, she is both a witness to and a participant in a growing grassroots movement throughout Mississippi.
Allison has been traveling throughout Mississippi to talk about Proposition 26 and how it threatens the personhood of all pregnant women. Her commentary about Prop 26 was published in the Hattiesburg American and this week, NAPW released a new video about Prop 26 that we expect will get significant play across the state.

Grassroots activism is also emerging in Indiana and continuing to build in Oklahoma. In Indiana, students from Butler College organized a public demonstration in support of Bei Bei Shuai outside of the Marion County jail where she has been held without bail on murder and attempted feticide charges since March. (Ms. Shuai attempted suicide while pregnant –she survived but her baby did not). Though small, this demonstration garnered a story in the Indianapolis Star and promises to be the first of many grassroots actions in support of Ms. Shuai. And, in Oklahoma, students and other state based activists, with NAPW and other support, are organizing the second regional reproductive justice conference, Take Root: Red State Perspective on Reproductive Justice, to be held in Norman, Oklahoma on Friday, February 24, 2012.

No matter what happens on November 8 in Mississippi, NAPW will continue to recognize, support, and encourage the growing grassroots Reproductive Justice activism in Southern and Midwestern states across the country. NAPW doesn’t litigate and leave. We litigate, educate, build, and honor. We hope you will join us in this effort.